This week, we were presenting our findings to the senior executive team at one of our clients. As we got deeper into presentation, we got the ‘that can’t be right’ statement from one of the executives. We love this point because we know this is the point in time when the “Moment of Insight” begins to occurs and true understanding of the situation begins to take root. Some people may call this the beginning of the ‘eureka’ moment, others may call it the ‘ah ha’ moment. Nevertheless, it’s the point at which the client or individual begins to see and understand the new connection points within their business and thus gain new insight into their business. You always see this at movies where all the clues come together and the answer everyone was looking for is found.
The benefits of reaching this moment of insight are great. New energy is released within the company to take advantage of this new insight and release its value within the business. These benefits may include shorter process times, lower operating costs or even increased cash flow.
Arriving to this point isn’t easy and it’s usually why our clients hire us. It takes a lot of time and effort interviewing key individuals within the company, running data queries off the company’s systems, observing how people are working within the business and basically asking a lot of questions on why things are done the way they are (just like the detective Columbo of old.)
Nevertheless, there are some simple steps that any company can take to generate these moments of insight.
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions: In today’s economic climate, so many people are afraid to ask questions. Senior executives have to encourage people to ask questions to ensure that all vantage points are considered and no group think occurs (in lean it’s call the 5W process). If you don’t think asking questions is important, then I would ask the question, do you think you are untouchable in the marketplace? No matter what the response, we can assure you that your competitors or potential competitors are asking questions, including how to put you out of business. (Andy Grove wrote a great book on this point.)
- Always validate your assumptions: Quite often, many decisions are made on assumptions about the business that turn out to be invalid due to changes in the marketplace or changes made by a employee six degrees away from that executive. When you are making a decision, always check to ensure your assumptions are valid.
- Leverage the data you can get: Data is always of value. It’s the degree of value that is always the question. Nevertheless, don’t be afraid to take raw data from your transactional systems and analyze it. You may be surprised what you find. For our clients, we do this all the time and it is why we are consistently able to find new hidden value for them.
These steps may sound simple but they are not easy for a lot of companies due to the disciplined effort it requires. However, if you are willing to implement these three simple ideas, you’ll be amazed by the ‘moments of insight’ you arrive at and the value you can create.